Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider

Last Updated:
April 11, 2024

Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider

Choosing a cloud hosting provider is challenging for any organization—but it’s especially so for ISVs. Business selection criteria for a cloud hosting provider primarily addresses employee needs, and employees are a far more forgiving lot than an ISV’s customers.

As one GO-Global customer pointed out, “Employees are willing to wait. Customers are not.”

When choosing a cloud hosting provider, Windows ISVs must consider their business goals and needs, industry, data security, and regulatory requirements, and most importantly, customer needs and expectations.

Your choice of provider can impact the performance, scalability, security, and cost-effectiveness of your cloud infrastructure, which in turn will influence customer satisfaction, retention, and growth. Here are key considerations to keep in mind when selecting a cloud hosting provider:

Service Offerings

  • Does the provider offer the specific services and features that align well with your use case, application type, data storage and security needs, and your customer expectations?
  • Ask for references from existing customers that are Windows ISVs like you, and talk with multiple references if possible to uncover what is working well and potential pitfalls.
  • Research customer reviews of each provider you consider.
  • Investigate the provider's future plans and innovation initiatives to ensure they align with your long-term goals.

Scalability and Performance

  • Can the provider easily accommodate your growth? How quickly can they scale up (or down)? Are there penalties for scaling down or additional charges for supporting unexpected growth?
  • If you have a global customer base, does the provider have a global presence to meet your geographical requirements?
  • Does the provider offer infrastructure that delivers smooth application response and overall performance with low latency? Most providers offer short term free trials for new customers that allow you to assess performance.


  • Look for a provider with a high uptime guarantee (e.g., 99.9%) and a reputation for reliability to minimize downtime (Explore prospective providers’ uptime track record in your conversations with customer references).
  • If you operate regionally, or will utilize multiple regional cloud centers, ask about the uptime track record for each of the regional center(s) from which your application will be delivered to customers. If one regional center goes offline, how does the provider mitigate the outage?
  • Ask the provider to explain any downtime incidents in the past 12 months and the safeguards put in place to mitigate those incidents in the future.

Support and Service Level Agreements(SLAs)

SLAs are critical for ISVs because they define the terms and conditions under which the cloud hosting provider will deliver their services. Many SLAs include provisions for service credits or financial penalties if the provider fails to meet agreed-upon service levels. Generally speaking, the SLAs listed below are the most important SLAs for ISVs, although different ISVs have different priorities based on their specific needs:

  • Uptime and availability: specifies the percentage of time the provider guarantees that their services—and the ISV’s application—will  be available.
  • Latency and Performance: the minimum performance level in terms of response times, throughput, and resource availability. This is especially important for customers that require low latency and/or high data transfer speeds. Network speed and stability can also be a crucial SLA to reduce latency and improve application performance.
  • Data Security and Compliance: SLAs related to data storage and security, encryption, and compliance with regulations such as GDPR or HIPAA are vital for ISVs to maintain customer trust. Some providers may offer SLAs that specifically cover compliance with various regulatory and auditing requirements.
  • Scalability: SLAs covering the provider’s ability to quickly scale up or down based on customer demand are crucial for ISVs with variable workloads.
  • Data Backup and Disaster Recovery: SLAs in this area ensure that ISVs can recover their data and services in case of unexpected outages or data loss. This area can also impact compliance.
  • Support Response Times: SLAs that define the timeframes within which the provider will respond to and resolve issues can be critical for customer satisfaction, regulatory compliance, and business continuity.

Monitoring and Management Tools

  • For ISVs that want to directly manage their cloud services, your cloud service provider will offer robust tools for monitoring, managing, and optimizing cloud resources. When evaluating providers, ISVs should leverage their understanding of their customers’ expectations to help define their application’s business-critical infrastructure and performance elements to ensure that the monitoring and management tool they select will allow them to manage their cloud to meet those expectations.
  • Providers like AWS, Azure, Google, and Oracle offer native monitoring and management tools that provide comprehensive insights into the performance and health of cloud resources, including virtual machines, databases, and containerized applications. Note that cost for using these monitoring tools is in addition to basic cloud services.
  • ISVs for whom security is a priority can also leverage tools native to each major cloud platform that monitor and manage cloud security. These tools are available at an additional cost.
  • Additionally, there are third party cloud monitoring tools available in addition to cloud service-native tools that monitor application performance, infrastructure, and logs.
  • ISVs engaging the services of a managed service provider (MSP) should understand what monitoring and management tools their MSP is utilizing with the ISV’s cloud implementation and whether those tools are native to the cloud provider, are provided by a third party, or are proprietary tools built by the MSP. No matter what the tool, ISVs need to make sure that the elements most valued by customers are prioritized for monitoring and optimizing.

Cost, Including Billing Models

  • Understand each provider’s pricing model (e.g., pay-as-you-go, reserved instances, etc.). Every provider uses different terminology—make sure you explicitly understand the definition of each term.
  • Will a provider allow you to mix billing models to accommodate different applications or different kinds of customers?
  • Will you need to train customers on new processes or procedures to avoid overcharging? For example, AWS Workspaces Autostop feature may not shut down certain inactive Windows desktops, so those AWS customers need to train users to properly shut down at the end of a session.
  • If your application is CPU-intensive, you may need to pay the provider more to appropriately provision customers—ask about resource allotment costs as part of your due diligence.
  • Cost may vary by region. Determine where your users are located and factor that into your pricing estimate for each provider.
  • Be aware of potential hidden charges. Share your use case in detail with the provider to understand any and all possible pricing pitfalls. This is another area where provider reviews and customer references can be especially helpful.

Security and Compliance

  • What security measures does the provider have in place? Do those measures align with your needs and expectations and those of your customers?
  • Are all security features included with the service you’re considering? If not, how much additional cost do they add?
  • Does the provider have the compliance certifications that fit your business and industry standards and regulations?
  • Does the provider have the compliance certifications appropriate for the countries in which your company operates?
  • If you plan to expand into new markets, can your provider accommodate you from a regulatory perspective in those newmarkets?

Data Exchange, Backup, and Recovery

  • If your customers frequently exchange files with users in other regions, does the provider charge for data transfers between regions? Some do, and those charges can add up fast.
  • What data backup and recovery options does the provider offer as part of their data redundancy and disaster recovery solutions? Do they address your customers’ needs and concerns? Do they protect you from liability?
  • Does their compliance with industry standards and regulations align with your market and legal requirements and obligations?

Migration and Portability

  • How easy it is to migrate your existing applications and data to the provider's infrastructure? The more difficult the migration effort, the bigger the risk and the higher the cost for the ISV.
  • Ensure you can move your workloads if needed for any reason. Your provider should not be able to hold your application and data hostage.

Community and Ecosystem

  • Prior to engaging with a provider, review and compare the size and vibrancy of the community and ecosystem for each provider you’re considering. Ecosystem quality impacts the availability of third-party integrations and support resources. The more options you have, the better your chances for ongoing success.
  • While you are interviewing Windows ISV references regarding provider performance, ask the ISV about the provider’s ecosystem. Interview companies in the provider’s ecosystem to get their viewpoint as well.

Vendor Lock-in

Be mindful of the risk of vendor lock-in and consider strategies to mitigate it, such as using open standards and APIs.

Environmental Impact

If sustainability is a concern for your organization, inquire about the provider's efforts to reduce their environmental impact.

Taking the time to thoroughly evaluate these considerations will help you choose the cloud hosting provider that best meets your needs, aligns with your organization's goals, and enables you to grow your customer base.

No matter which cloud hosting provider you choose, you can rest assured that GO-Global will work with any cloud platform to efficiently and cost-effectively deliver your Windows application to your customers located anywhere.

To learn more about GO-Global, request a demo here or download a free 30-day trial.